Monday, February 21, 2011

Down (Low) but Not Out...

I'm Down...
not necessarily like "depressed" but just feeling down.  Like every time I get up again, something else comes along to knock me over or trip me and make me fall...seems like I'm spending an awful lot of time on the ground these days! Today it occurred to me that maybe I'm not using my time on the ground very wisely...perhaps I should be on my knees? Praying...thanking God for the things I have, the family I have, the friends I have (be they few- LOL)...

Maybe it's the winter that will not seem to end this year!  Some member of my household has been sick since the end of September.  I am so sick of being sick or taking care of someone who is sick...countless trips to the doctor, only to hear, "it's viral; we'll have to let it run it's course!" How many different viruses can the same two kids get in one season???

Maybe it's because I just don't feel good...not physically, emotionally, spiritually...not bad really, just not good either.  I'm a little disappointed in myself, I guess.  I haven't really taken good care of myself and it's starting to show more than usual.

Maybe it's some "friend" and "frenemy" issues that I've had lately.  I just feel like I've been disappointed a lot lately and maybe I did that to myself.  Maybe I set an unfair expectation of myself and of these other people.

I have never been the girl who had a million girlfriends.  The one who could pick up the phone and dial until she got someone ANYONE to pick up and talk her through the current crisis.  I have always had just one or two close friends, confidants, and a small group of acquaintances.  The older I get, the more I think I know why...for some reason, I am so guarded.  It is really difficult for me to be vulnerable and open up to people.  Why is that? I'm really not sure, but I have some theories.

Theory number one:
I started getting picked on by other girls in preschool because I was meek and wouldn't fight back.  They would pull my hair and take toys right out of my hands, and while I might cry, I never retaliated. I learned early not to trust other girls or get too close because they might not be what they seemed...

Theory number two:
I truly have a good heart! I want to give EVERYONE the benefit of the doubt, no matter how stupid that is or how many times before they have hurt me.  I just want to believe that good always wins :-)

Theory number 3:
I learned it from the women in my life growing up.  I don't want to believe this is the most logical theory, but since I am such a practical person, I have to admit it to myself.  I can't pinpoint specific actions or words from Mama, Grandma, or Aunts but there are definitely behaviors from all of them that might feed in to this.  My biggest concern as a Mom has always been that I would pass along self-esteem issues to my daughter.  I am desperately trying to heal myself before Sweetpea enters the tween years and life gets more difficult.

So while I am "down" I am not out! I am sort of digging around in the mud...trying to find some answers and figure out how to pull myself out of this hole.  My thought is that while it may be difficult and uncomfortable at times, in the end, it will be therapeutic and produce good results.

One thing I have decided to do is a gratitude journal of sorts.  Every post, I will work in a gratitude portion.  Maybe a story about a relationship or a sentiment for all I have both tangible and intangible.
I invite you to join me! Post your gratitudes in my comments section or post a link to your post on your own blog.

I would love to give and receive some gratitude and inspiration among friends!

Monday, February 14, 2011

saying "NO" with grace?

I recently read a Mamapedia article about teaching your kids gratitude (read it here).  I could really identify with the author on several accounts.
We aren't wealthy, but our kids don't really go without.  We think about the messages we send them with the things that they receive for gifts and rewards, but in general they don't get toys or unnecessary objects, "just because".  From us at least...
We are fortunate to have two sets of parents that are still young and in relatively good health.  They both live within about a one hour drive and often will come to stay with the kids while we go to appointments or even date nights.  I am very appreciative of this! There's nothing that can spoil a date night like paying the babysitter almost as much as you spent on the date!
However, with one set of grandparents, my children have come to expect that gifts will be coming with Grammy.  This is because this grammy's house is OVER-RUN with toys and do-dads, all for my kids, the only two grandchildren she has.   This Grammy also tends to bring stuff with her when she comes to visit; it could be a book or video she found at the thrift store or a new pair of pj's. Sometimes, it's the toy we previously denied our daughter because we felt she should save up and buy it herself (and learn some valuable lessons in the process). YES, that really happened, but in Grammy's defense, she didn't know that Sweet Pea had asked for that EXACT toy and been told "no."
Please understand, we are super-duper grateful for all the help we receive from our parents! Without it, in the beginning, I might not have had the luxury (I use that term loosely :-)) of staying home with our kids.
BUT, when your 4 year old makes comments about what Grammy might bring her versus the excitement of seeing Grammy, there's a problem, don't ya think?
Does anyone else know that quote that says something like "LOVE to a child is spelled T-I-M-E"? Apparently not to my least not where Grammy is concerned.
I am all for providing better things for my child than I had growing up- or at least I used to think I was.
Was there really anything wrong with the fact that I had to work in high school to help pay for my car insurance and gas?  Was it really a big deal that I never had a phone or tv of my own in my room? Was it really a big deal that I learned early the value of hard work? Was it such a tragedy that I read books instead of playing a handheld video game all the time?
NO, NO, NO and NO! I am so grateful for all of these things and plan to institute most of them with my kids.  They do have some things that are better or different simply because times have changed.
I've gotten a little of course here, but my point is this:
If Grammy wants to help us out with the kids, that's great! Let's keep it to necessities and useful items rather than a new toy they don't have room for! I am not concerned about the amount of money she spends on our kids- ultimately that's her and gramps' decision.  However, it is my job as a responsible parent to teach my children that "money doesn't grow on trees" as my parents used to say.  You have to work for it, or someone does, and you should think about how you spend it so as not to waste it.  I don't want my kids to grow up thinking they can get anything they want as long as they ask, whine, complain enough about not having it.
This same issue caused me to tell my 6 year old daughter the "Santa Secret" this year.  In fact, I never wanted to start the Santa tradition with my kids for several reasons (if you want to read most of them, check out Texan Mama's post about it, here), but before I could really voice that Sweet Pea was here and enjoying her first Christmas at 7 months old.  In future years, this Grammy went so far as to say that Santa stopped at her house for Sweet Pea too (yeah, I know, don't even get me started on this one).
Again, my job is to teach my child responsibility, gratitude for what she has, and not to always want what someone else has (in my book that's coveting, and THE BOOK, addresses it in the 10 Commandments).
So what do I do?
How do I gracefully ask this Grammy to stop buying gifts for my kids, especially when they aren't needed, practical, or anything other than a "spoil?"
Sadly, the discussion has already been had at least twice, so where do I go from here and how do I handle this with grace?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

where I've been...

Well, howdy! I didn't mean to leave for so long and it wasn't by choice! I am writing to you tonight from my brand new MAC- which I absolutely LOVE (despite the learning curve)! The situations and happenings of this past week have not been so grace-filled, I'm afraid.
You see, I am not the most patient person.  I don't like waiting.  I really don't like life's little surprises! Especially not ones like this!
Last Spring my desktop died and I had to start using my laptop full time.  The big bummer was I lost all my emails and email folders and their contents.  I have a home based business and get at least 100 emails a day from different sources.  To organize them, I either immediately delete or transfer them to another mail folder where I can reference or read later.  If you use Microsoft Outlook and know how to back it all up- where were you last year?!!? Just kidding!
Anyway, I realized it wasn't the end of the world and rebuilt as much as I could into my laptop.  So, last Friday morning, I used my laptop; it worked fine.  I shut it down the way I always do, packed it in my bag to take away with me, and off I went.  I've done this dozens of times! As it turns out, I didn't use the laptop all weekend, but Sunday night after returning home, I pulled it out and turned it on.   Nothing. My welcome screen eventually came up but never took me to the sign-in screen.  Instead, a black screen with white text came up and without even reading it, I knew "this ain't good!"
So, needless to say, I lost a lot of stuff.  I had a partial back-up from early January, but still, I lost a lot.  I learned my lesson the hard way-AGAIN! I know it's my fault, but still, I had NO warning! NONE! What the heck? How does a 4 year old, $1000 ($850 because we got it on sale) laptop DIE after 4 years?!  I kind of lost it...
Monday we started talking about getting a new computer...Tuesday the hubby took the old one to someone to look at.  Diagnosis was a bad hard drive, nothing salvageable.  Hubby wasn't feeling well either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday...can you picture me tapping my foot and drumming my fingers on the tabletop? I mean I NEED a computer for my business.  I know that sounds terrible right? I really was trying not to give him a hard time, but my stress level was through the roof! I ended up yelling at him for "dragging his feet" and then played the "I never come first" card- ouch! That's just ugly- why do I do that?
So anyway, here I sit with a new mac AND a new printer, knowing I have a husband who spoils me (especially where electronics are concerned).  I don't deserve him! Yes, I did apologize for my words, but probably owe him much more.  He wasn't planning to spend nearly as much as he did on me... does anyone know how to grovel gracefully?

Another topic I could use some help with...grace and forgiveness.  While I was away this weekend,  I had to spend time with someone who really gets under my skin.  It's not even her actually, so much as what she did to me a few years ago.  I really try to be kind, and I really try not to hold grudges.  I know that holding offenses against people is wrong on many levels.  I also know, as I stated here, in my last post that unforgiveness can eat away at you (me, in this case).  In fact, also while I was away this weekend, a Facebook friend posted something like, "forgiving doesn't make the other person right; it makes you free."
Wow! What a thought- freedom!  I would love to forgive and forget the offenses that this person committed against me, but even after so many years, it still hurts! What makes it worse is so many other people seems to think she walks on water. I just can't figure that out...I mean some of them even witnessed what she did to me, but it's like they forgot or don't care.  Guarantee you if it had been them, they wouldn't give her the time of day now!
How do I continue to interact with her, because unfortunately I can't avoid it, and not let her and the situation have a hold over me?
What would you do?
What would grace look like in this situation (in your opinion)? I know what it should look like, I just can't reconcile the picture of grace with the picture of me.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

MamaKatsWriter'sWorkshop-Letter to my future teen

Dear Sweetpea,
Right now you are almost seven and still mine and Daddy’s little girl.  Some days I can already glimpse what might be to come in your teen years, because you and I seriously butt heads (okay, most days J)!
I’m writing you this letter for several reasons.
First, I want you to know that all my life, all I ever wanted was to be a Mommy! Having you was the beginning of a wonderful era of my life and no matter what happens, I will always remember that feeling.  Bringing you into the world, was unexpectedly difficult.  And while that is a conversation for another time, I will say a few things about the day you were born.  Regardless of the pain, regardless of the surgery, regardless of my decisions being taken from me, my one true prayer through the entire process was “Please, God, just bring her to my arms safely! Whatever is best for her, I will endure!” I have to tell you, hearing you cry for the first time was the sweetest sound I have ever heard in my life! One of the next sweetest moments was watching your Daddy hold you for the first time and say to you, “Why wouldn’t you come out?”
That one made me laugh too; one of the things I love most about your Dad.

Through the years, I know our relationship is going to go through changes.  I have already experienced your disappointment in me, your genuine love for me, words that said you hated me even when I knew you didn’t mean them. I have experienced heartache on your behalf and nearly died keeping it from you so that I could be strong and help you through your pain.  It is difficult to put into words the weight my heart has carried for you every day of your life.  I want to spare you from every painful experience I ever had!  I want to help you through life without actually doing it for you.  It’s sort of like helping you with your homework! I can’t give you the answers or you will not be able to figure them out for yourself next time, but I do want to help you discover the answer.     

But you know, the truth is, I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am today without making and living through my mistakes. This is one of my favorite quotes…
When you lose, don't lose the lesson.  (Author Unknown)
In every experience life brings you, there is always a valuable lesson.  Some of them can spare you from the pain of a repeated mistake, some of them can save you from losing something or someone important to you, some of them could in fact, save your life.  Even when life seems bleak and unfair, make a practice of looking back and asking yourself, “what was I supposed to learn from this and how can it help me in the future?”

Lastly, since I don’t want this letter to go on for pages and pages, I wanted to share with you some things I wish I had known as a teenager.  Some of these I knew but didn’t believe; some of them I knew, but didn’t pay much attention to; some of them I knew but didn’t really understand until much later. Most of them my Mom told me but I didn’t listen or chose not to hear (so the lesson here is listen to your Mother!).
I hope you will ponder them, treasure them, and know they come to you in the most positive and loving way.  They come to you from a Mother who loves you dearly and only wants you to have the best and happiest life possible!

  • God created you and you are special (Jer 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;)
  • Realize that you are beautiful because of who you are and that is not for anyone else to decide.  God created us in His image (Gen. 1:27-28)
  • When you make a mistake, learn from it.  Ask forgiveness for it (from the person or people you wronged as well as from God).  This is as much for your benefit as for theirs. Guilt can haunt you and eat you alive, even over the smallest of transgressions.  Learn, ask forgiveness, and move on!
  • YOU are God’s masterpiece and you belong to Him (Eph 2:10)
  • Fear does not come from God; He gives us power (2 Tim 1:7)!
  • When you seek first to please God, He will bless you! This applies to so many situations!
  • Trust God to guide you in all things, even in love.  He has a plan for you and for your entire life. He will lead you to the one you will love forever.  Wait patiently, no matter how long it takes; God’s rewards are always worth the wait!
ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, know I love you and I always will!


Check out other entries for this week at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Like a soaked sponge...

All day today I have been bombarded with opportunities.  Opportunities to witness grace, to share grace, to keep my mouth shut and let grace be assumed -LOL...but lots of opportunities.  And now at the end of the day, I feel compelled obligated to share a couple of things.  Before I begin, let me say that this post is largely not my own; in all actuality, I am regurgitating things that have been said or shown to me and I will try my best to give credit where due.  Hence the title of the a soaked sponge that is overflowing...I want to return some of what I have "soaked" up.

So here goes...
In my opinion, part of being or becoming a woman of grace, involves self confidence.  Now keep in mind, I am not trying to be hypocritical here; I've got just as many issues (and maybe more) with my self-worth as most women do.  But again, I am really feeling led to share some dots that have just been connected for me.
I found this wonderful post about a woman of grace and it includes a quote from Kristin Armstrong; check it out here.

Let me also say, that I LOVE Beth Moore! As a woman who takes a weekly Bible Study, I have just connected with and been extremely blessed by her studies, which is why I'm about to reference some of them. If you like Beth Moore, check out this link to see one of the studies I am quoting and gain access to tons more.

Back to the issue of self-confidence, though; a very powerful quote from Beth that I remembered and marked was during her Daniel study, which I took over two years ago.
"Constantly thinking little of ourselves is still thinking constantly of ourselves."
Wow! Soak that in!
Now I'll be the first to admit- that's a tough pill to swallow because I am GUILTY! I do this everyday! I self-talk myself right into the dumps! I mean, I just can't do anything right! Come on, self, get it together!
But that is not who God wants us to be; it's not who He created us to be.

To quote Max Lucado (Come Thirsty) :
Next time the arid desert winds blow, defining you by yesterday's struggles, reach for God's goblet of grace and drink. Grace defines who you are.  The parent you can't seem to please is as mistaken as the doting uncle you can't disappoint.  People hold no clout. Only God does. According to Him, you are His. Period. "For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." Eph 2:10

And paraphrasing from a Beth Moore video sited above: when we will not accept God's grace and forgiveness and walk around with our heads hung in shame and under a cloud of self-condemnation, are we calling that humility? Because God calls it unbelief! Lack of faith!

Are you feeling that? It's not God coming down on you; it's God wrapping His arms around you.  It's God lovingly whispering in your ear, "Please! See yourself as I see you! Show that self to others."

In John 1:14 and 17 we learn that Christ is Grace and Truth.  He should be our standard; therefore, Grace and Truth should be our standard, even in our conversations with ourselves.  If it isn't gracious, stop saying it to yourself! If it isn't truthful, stop saying it; stop thinking it! (paraphrased from Jennifer Rothschild's study,  Me, Myself, and Lies)

I've shared some things that were on my heart as a result of things I read, saw, and heard about today.
It's a difficult subject to close on because there is really so much to be said.
But I'll close with this:
"By the Grace of God I am what I am." 1 Cor 15:10 (NKJV)
Remember that and say it to yourself until it sticks!